Archive for October, 2012

October 29th, 2012

Penpal of the Week #100


Wow, I can’t believe that I have interviewed 100 penpals so far! I’m actually quite proud of myself, because I’ve often started projects and given up after a while since I was a child… But I’m being quite persistent with these interviews, so yay for me, and yay for Ria who’s Penpal of the Week #100!


Please tell us about you!

I am a British Lady living in the USA since 2006. A proud Air Force wife to my husband MAC of 12 years and a mom of 3 children. Next year (May) I turn 30.


Ria 1

Me and my husband.


A British photographer of Nature, Landscape Scenic photographs and people as well as an artist. I like to focus on a number of different subjects through my artwork and photography. I most definitely enjoy the beauty of nature and all the pleasure and serenity that the great outdoors brings, every day. You can find me out and about with my Nikon, I work for the North Dakota Department of Commerce providing photography services. I also published my first book in May of this year.


My husband is a Technical sergeant in the USAF and works weapons systems on the aircraft. We have been living in North Dakota since 2010 and like it a lot. Previously we were in New Mexico and England. We hope to get one more base after our tour has finished in N. Dakota. Eventually when my husband retires from the air force we will settle down in Maine. USA.


Ria 2

Cross stitch. I made this for my husband. I enjoy xstitching. Another hobby of mine.


In May 2012, I received 40 copies of my first book in the mail. In that box was the fulfillment of a lifelong dream, to become a published author. The title is not what I anticipated, back when I was in the 6th grade and first decided I wanted to be an author. I thought I would be writing Romance Novels or children’s books as I got older, and here I am with a published book on the Collecting of Postmarks and Autographs, something that has been an interest of mine for many years. It serves as a collecting guide for anyone to get started on the wonderful hobby of collecting postmarks and autographs through the mail.


The point is this: I am now a published author, and after working  last year on 65,000 or more  of the hardest words I’ve ever written, and then re-written, and then re-written some more, I realize that the work is just beginning. I’ll say it again; writing is the easy part. Marketing and publishing come much more difficult.


Writing Articles for such publications and Newsletters is ongoing, I’ve written for the Postmark Collectors club, followed by the Mailers Postmark Permit club, Art Cover Exchange and the Dakota Postal History society all of which I am a member of these organizations. I still want to write children’s books, perhaps that’s my next step. I am more than ready to move on to the next level, whatever that may be. I love art and I’d love to Illustrate.


I know also, that ripping open a box of books with my name on the cover is not the finish line. It is the starting line of a lifelong marathon.


But I have come to realize this; I am a better writer than when I started. As proof, I am rarely satisfied with something I wrote a year ago, or even a month ago, and trust that is a sign of growth. And I am willing to do whatever it takes to get to the top.


Ria 3

My amazing pens and inks – some of my favorite writing items.


I have a blog and I am also on facebook. Author- Ria Cabral


Despite my busyness with the photography, book, and setting up a non-profit organization I am learning that it’s ok to just be me and make sure to take some time for myself every now and then to do the things that I enjoy. It’s ok to be a little shy sometimes, quiet, odd, different but I can accept them and embrace them as being a part of me. They are not something I need to fix. I am learning my own way in the world and this is my journey.


As I mentioned I am happily married and my husband is my lover, soul mate, best friend and everything else I could imagine. The one who writes a romantic letter for his / her gets a sense of satisfaction because it’s only you who can describe your innermost feelings in the perfect manner and no one else. He is kind, caring, compassionate, strong both physically and mentally, loving, loyal, honest and trustworthy. He has both a gentle side, but also a “don’t mess with me” side… which I love, and he knows when to use both. He’s very intelligent and a hard worker. Very driven to succeed and triumph. He understands me, lets me be me, supports me, and always laughs at my silly jokes… no matter how lame. He’s very patient, very protective of the ones he loves and just such an amazing father. I am just so grateful to have found him.


Ria 4

First Dance (as Mr and Mrs).


Describe your personality in 10 words!

Stubborn, Artistic, Loyal, Creative, Energetic, Clever, Funny, Passionate, Perceptive, Loving


How long have you been penpalling? How did you first start? Tell us about your first penpal!

I’ve had pen pals since I was in high school. And then got back in to pen-palling again around yr 2000. Longest letter communication, still active, with a railway photographer in Australia (6 yrs), and then a few others in India, Netherlands, USA for about 3 years.


My very first penpal was from Ipswich, Suffolk UK when I was living in England. She and I were “boyzone” fans and of other boy bands. When I was 15 I had a boyzone cake and we went to a concert together. One time another pen-pal and I also met in Ipswich for the first time at an A1 Concert. I made the band a fan book and the local newspaper helped me to meet them so I could give it to them in person. Those were the days.


I still enjoy all my music and following Jeff Gutt (x factor) who is just totally awesome. I also write to many favorite artists through the mail to see if I am able to obtain an autograph as focused in my book! love to share with others a passion of mine, the collecting of Postmarks and Autographs. Postmark collection brings history to life. There’s a lot more joy in finding than owning. It excites me to find something that no one has before. If there’s anything new to find, I’ll be looking for it.


Ria 5

A1 Newspaper (when I met the group).


How many penpals do you have now and where are they from?

Heike (Germany), Cindy (Los Angeles, USA), Brad (Australia), Nathalie (Netherlands), Andy Jones (UK) this guy here has the most amazing handwriting in the world that I’ve seen. We get along especially well because Andy and I share the love of photography and we often talk about setting up our own dark room for processing photos. I love to practice the Art of Calligraphy and enjoy the social grace of a handwritten letter. Not only do I love a handwritten letter my love goes even deeper for writing, with the interest and collection of: pens & ink, sealing wax & stamps, and Timeless Writing Accessories from all over the world. Andy just feeds this interest even more.


There is also Iain (Scotland), Georgina (Washington,USA) — another special lady. A constant source of inspiration who has never given up on me.


What are your favorite topics to discuss in letters?

I don’t have specific topics I like to talk about in letters. I believe that it is about connecting with one another in whatever we may share an interest for. I like to learn about their country and culture and about their family. How they piece together their days and what makes them happy. We also write about favorite places and important childhood memories. The sending and receiving of a letter brings me happiness. It’s the desire to share with someone what makes my heart tingle. It is important to remember that mail art, and writing a letter is geared towards new concepts and ideas.


Ria 6

Fishing box full of writing supplies – everything I use to send my outgoing mail.


What are you looking for in a penpal?

I’m not just looking for any type of pen pal, someone who is willing to put forward 100 % to build a friendship, someone who will treat me with respect, and in return I will do the same. A friendship / pen-correspondence based on honesty and trust. To have some similar likes are a bonus but not necessary. I love stamps. I have a huge stamp collection of around 15,000 stamps or more and some first day covers. I love anything to do with Stationery, pens, inks, Postage stamps and everything in between. I am most definitely obsessed with all things papery and postal. I love to write letters and make my own envelopes. Maybe someone who would be willing to exchange and share ideas about paper crafts. I also have a Fascination With Doors, Windows and beautiful Architecture which I also like to Photograph. All of which can be as exciting as it is gratifying. I’m amazed by some of the beautiful, unusual and bizzare architectural photos along with my door and window images… which provide constant inspiration. Maybe there is also someone out there who likes doors and windows.


What do you like the most about penpalling?

The chance to step in to someone else’s life for a while. It’s like telling a story and you could really imagine being there with them like talking in person, you can feel their presence through letters they write. I always wondered what peoples country and home is like!


Ria 7

My house. What does yours look like?


In what language(s) do you correspond?

English is my primary language, but learning new languages is another interest. I know a little German, French and Spanish (broken)—thank goodness sometimes for a translator. And I do enjoy writing in another language sometimes or sentences to practice.


What are some of your habits in regards to letter writing?

I was very happy to see you asked this question. A life with the love of writing and postage stamps – with a mix of art and photography. You know you’ve become obsessed with all things papery and postal when you dream about them… everything I record on my blog Mallard Trail Mail.


In the summer I like to go to the lake or sit in a shaded spot in the garden, in the winter well with – 40 outside at my desk with a hot cocoa to stay warm and all my favorite writing supplies. I own four mailer’s postmark permits, they include:

Minot AFB, ND 001

Glenburn, ND 001

Lansford, ND 001

Burlington, ND 008


For those that are not sure of a mailers postmark. A Mailer’s Postmark Permit (MPP) is a cancellation applied by a mailer to a piece of mail before depositing it with the USPS for mailing. Anyone can obtain an MPP. The process is very simple and is free except for the price of the cancel itself. I add this personal touch to my envelopes. Only a mailers postmark is assigned to me with the numbers shown!


Ria 8

Example of my mailers postmark.


I write more than just a page or two. Sometimes 10+. Depending on what’s been going on, when we last wrote or if something exciting has happened. I try to write back within a week of getting a letter, but sometimes due to family commitments it has taken longer.


Has anything strange/funny ever happened to you since you’ve been penpalling?

For sure. I’ve set up various experiments with the postal system to test their limits. I’ve sent things like novelty items not wrapped as is by placing a tag around the item with string, oversized postcards and more. Most recent experiment still in the works to see if I could send a letter attaching the value of a stamp in coins. You can read about it on my Mallard Trail Mail blog. I bet my mailman is surprised to deliver a squeegee (LOL) It might not be strange as such but living in ND with the harsh winters I’ve trekked in a ton of snow and negative temps just to get my mail… in all weather come rain or shine.


Its’ not by postal (pen and paper) but I e-mail regularly with Gary Hollywood. Mr Hollywood was discovered at the age of twelve by the drama department of Scottish Television and cast in a major role in the popular detective series “Taggart” (1983). He has worked extensively in television ever since, and stars in the popular Scottish soap opera “Take the High Road” (1980). Hollywood completed his first American film, playing the young John Muir in Lawrence R. Hott’s biopic about the Scots-born founder of Yosemite Park, The Boyhood of John Muir (1998). MRS BROWNS BOYS


Have you met any of your penpals?

YES two people 1 of whom I’m still friends with almost 12 yrs later or more. All have been positive experiences. Hopefully I’ll meet others in the future too. :)


Ria 9

Sample of my handwriting :)


Are you currently looking for more penpals?

I am looking to meet a few new people to interact with and communicate via pen and paper. Having pen pals, especially those from other countries, is a great experience and I get to learn about countries that I dream of visiting. I just want to find someone that I can be me with and be accepted for who I am as a person.


Thank you Ria for being Penpal of the Week #100!


Anyone want a glass of champagne to celebrate with Ria & me?!

October 28th, 2012

Swap #4


It’s time for another swap! But first, have you signed up for my stationery giveaway? The winners will be announced this week, within the next few days. Good luck to everyone!


Also, if anyone is interested in these garden themed stickers (pack #2), they’re still available for trade going to Aida in Malaysia!


I still have 7 stationery packs for sale, though 2 people are supposed to get back to me about them soon, so there are possibly only 5 left 3 left now all sold!


And now about swap #4! I’m looking for a few partners who would like to get any of the following notecard packs:


Pack #1 – Flowers : 4 cards with matching green envelopes (3 sets still available)

Swap 4 - 1A

Swap 4 - 1B

Swap 4 - 1C

Swap 4 - 1D


Pack #2 – Reduce, Reuse, Recycle : 4 cards with white envelopes (3 sets 1 set left)

Swap 4 - 2A

Swap 4 - 2B

Swap 4 - 2C

Swap 4 - 2D


Pack #3 – Seashells & Butterflies: 4 cards (2 of each design) with matching envelopes – it’s hard to see but the cards have lovely metallic silver accents (3 sets still available)

Swap 4 - 3A

Swap 4 - 3B


In exchange, I’m looking for the following:

– sticker sheets

– washi tape

– writing paper (medium size, A5 is best, at least 6-8+ sheets for long letters)

– notepads and journals with decorated sheets (4″ x 6″ and bigger)

– notecards (store-bought with matching envelopes)

– postcards (non-touristy)

– unused Canadian stamps (vintage or new)

– pretty envelopes (A2 or 4″ x 6″ and larger sizes)

– anything turtle themed (for my mom’s collection)

– chocolate or candy


Also, any stationery (paper, cards or stickers) in these themes:

Sushi, robots, monsters, Sphynx cats, the Smurfs (old style), Garfield, Peanuts, comics, mice, squirrels, hedgehogs, gnomes, owls, foxes, cherries, circus, carnivals, pin-ups, vintage housewives, Dick and Jane, children’s illustrations, anything gothic, etc.


For ideas and to see my perfect ratings, check out my swap-bot profile. I’m also open to anything that’s not listed above – surprise me!


If you’re interested in swapping with me, please send pictures or a description of what you could send to


Thank you – let’s swap!

Posted under Stationery | 1 Comment


My name is Julie and I'm 37.
I'm French Canadian and fell
in love with an American,
so I'm now living in Vermont
with my wife.

I write letters, I love stationery and I have a handwriting fetish. I often eat sushi, still feel like I'm 16 and only wear skirts & dresses (with colorful tights when it's cold).

I'm happier with a mind full of ideas, a mailbox full of letters from my penpals, a shop full of stationery, a house full of pens and a day full of hugs.

Read my Top 10 Quirks here.

This is me with my wife,
Denise. We met through the
League of Extraordinary
Penpals and are living
happily ever after in the
Stationery Kingdom.

Denise blogs here too and is
the one in charge of the
social media: Facebook,
Twitter and Pinterest.

She's 40 years old,
from South Dakota,
and in love with me, washi
tape & imperial rolls.

Send your penpal ad & top 10 quirks to:

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penpal of the week